New Jersey Report: Test Scores Plummet, Absences Skyrocket

by Staff

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, revealing troubling trends in U.S. public schools. This year’s report includes, for the first time, data from all 50 states on declining test scores and increasing absenteeism.

Nationally, only one-third of fourth graders meet reading standards, one-fourth of eighth graders are proficient in math, and 30 percent of students are chronically absent. The pandemic has erased any recent academic gains, with persistent poverty continuing to impede educational success.

New Jersey faces particularly concerning outcomes, with 62 percent of fourth graders and 67 percent of eighth graders below proficiency in reading. The state has the second-lowest rate of chronic absenteeism at 17 percent, but ranks 26th in economic well-being.

The Data Book ranks states based on 16 indicators of child well-being, placing New Jersey sixth overall. Despite this, 35 percent of New Jersey children live in households burdened by high housing costs, and nearly half of the federal ESSER III funds remained unspent as of January 2024.

Advocates warn that failing public schools could impact up to $31 trillion in U.S. economic activity, highlighting the urgency of addressing educational deficits.

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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